Gary and Renowned Entertainer Ray Charles Receive Honorary Degrees.

Issue: May 6, 2002

ALBANY, Ga. -- Prominent attorney Willie E. Gary and legendary entertainer Ray Charles received honorary doctorates from Albany State University during the school's 99th Commencement Exercise on Monday.

(Photo: NewsCom: http://www.newscom/cgi-bin/prnh/20020506/FLM020)

Both Gary, who was recently named one of Ebony Magazine's 100 Most Influential Black Americans, and Charles, who worked with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during the civil rights movement, were honored for their tireless commitment to education.

Last year, Charles donated $1 million to his hometown school Albany State. The three-time entertainment Hall of Famer surpassed that figure this year when he gave the school an additional $2 million.

Gary, who is also the Chairman & CEO of the MBC Network, is perhaps best known for his $10 million gift to his alma mater Shaw University in 1991. In 2001, Gary created a million-dollar initiative through his MBC Network to provide free advertising to Historically Black Colleges and Universities throughout the country.

He has also donated $100,000 or more in recent years to Edward Waters College, the Morehouse School of Religion, Virginia University of Lynchburg, Bethune-Cookman College, Florida Memorial College, Paine College, Quinnipiac College, Florida A&M and the Holyfield Foundation in Atlanta.

"It doesn't matter if you went to a historically black college or not," Gary said. "What's important is that we support our HBCUs because those schools were there for us when we had no where else to go."

Dr. Portia Holmes Shields, president of Albany State, presented the honorary doctorates to Gary and Charles during the commencement ceremony where more than 250 graduates received their Bachelor's of Arts & Sciences, nursing and Master's of Arts & Science degrees.


Contact: Kori Hughes, Public Relations Director for Willie Gary, +1-772-288-0771, or cell, +1-772-485-6565, or


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Charles Bronson

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